Maker Highlight: Jess Gantos

Jess grew up around wood fabrication, which planted the seed for her craft as an adult. With a father building and renovating houses and a mother creating crafts to sell at local markets, she grew up around making.

It wasn’t until she built herself a school bus tiny home in 2017 that the seed of making with wood grew into a full fledged passion. Leaning on her father’s knowledge, she built a home with her own two hands. From there she unexpectedly landed an opportunity at a wood shop in the desert and got into hand-carving.

After falling in love with the practice of making each cut with such intention, she discovered that one can easily find themselves in a meditative rhythm. One thing lead to another and now Jess finds herself up through the night perfecting a single square inch of a panel of pine.

From there a friend hired Jess to make a koji tray, essentially a box for a Japanese fermentation process, and she was catapulted into the captivating world of Japanese joinery, where hardware and adhesives are seldom present in the construction. Everything fits together like a puzzle. Joinery was satisfying in so many ways, from design elements to personal taste, she was hooked on the practice.

Check out her joinery workshop coming up on July 20th!

After world travels from Africa to Europe, China to Belize, you’ll find her most often in the wood shop these days or being inspired by fellow WATT participant Amy Westphal. To use her quote directly: “She’s a g***amn inspiration – I mean it. She’s wildly talented.”

Jess leaves us with the advice: “Give yourself enough time to gather the right materials for your projects. If you want reclaimed barn wood for your flooring, plan ahead to allow yourself the time to do so.”